Archive for February, 2012

Liberia’s Senate to Consider Anti-Gay Bill

repost from New York Times

Liberia’s Senate will consider a bill Thursday to strengthen the nation’s existing anti-gay laws, a senator said, as another West African nation, Cameroon, announced the arrest of 10 women suspected of being lesbians.

Cameroon Radio Television reported Thursday that the 10 women are being detained in Ambam, some 190 miles (300 kilometers) south of the capital of Yaounde, until they go to trial.

Consensual same-gender sex is considered criminal in Cameroon and punishable by a jail sentence from six months to five years and a fine. Gay rights defender and founder of the Association for the Defense of Homosexuals, Alice Nkom, says detainees in Cameroon are frequently tortured in police stations to force them confess.

Meanwhile, Liberia’s former first lady, Senator Jewel Taylor, submitted a bill last week that would prohibit same-sex marriage and make homosexuality a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Continue reading

LGBT Case Goes to Supreme Court in India

LGBT Case Goes to Supreme Court in India, Council for Global EqualityFebruary 17, 2012 – This week, as many of us celebrated Valentine’s Day with our loved ones, an important legal challenge moved forward in India that will impact the rights of same-sex couples in India and beyond.  The Supreme Court of India began hearings this week on appeals from the favorable Delhi High Court verdict in the Naz Foundation case of July 2009.  That landmark case found that India’s sodomy law, section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which was imposed under British colonial rule and then replicated in many other British colonies, violates both the Indian constitution and India’s human rights obligations.  In her powerful speech on the human rights of LGBT communities at the United Nations in Geneva in December, Secretary Clinton cited the Delhi High Court decision as global progress, quoting the court’s claim that “If there is one tenet that can be said to be an underlying theme of the Indian constitution, it is inclusiveness.” Continue reading ‘LGBT Case Goes to Supreme Court in India’

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) Outraged by the Closure of the LGBTI Capacity Development Workshop by the State Minister of Ethics and Integrity Rev. Fr. Simon Lokodo

KAMPALA- February 15, 2012

Exactly one week after the re-tabling of the Anti Homosexuality Bill (2009) by MP David Bahati, a workshop organized by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) human rights defenders was invaded and shut down in Entebbe. The State Minister for Ethics and Integrity in the Office of the President, Rev. Fr. Simon Lokodo, in the company of an aide and the police, announced that the workshop was illegal and ordered the meeting to close immediately or else force would be used to end the meeting.

“I have closed this conference because it is illegal. We do not accept homosexuality in Uganda. So go back home,” Mr Lokodo told the workshop participants.

SMUG condemns this outright abuse of office by the State Minister of Ethics and Integrity.

According to Frank Mugisha one of the Coordinators of the Capacity Development workshop and present at the time; ‘’Closing our workshop today totally violates our constitutional rights and this intimidation will not stop us from fighting, for equal treatment of all Ugandan citizens.’’ Frank Mugisha is the Executive Director of SMUG and 2011 Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award Laureate

The Minister also ordered the arrest of Kasha Jacqueline Nabagasera, the Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda and 2011 Laureate of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders when she dared to challenge him for disrupting the workshop. Kasha with the help of colleagues was whisked out of the hotel to safety. Continue reading ‘Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) Outraged by the Closure of the LGBTI Capacity Development Workshop by the State Minister of Ethics and Integrity Rev. Fr. Simon Lokodo’

Visiting Evangelist Assures Uganda’s LGBTI “Not all American Christian Preachers are Anti-Gay”

A visiting American evangelist, Pastor Joseph Tolton, has criticised Uganda’s Anti Homosexuality Bill saying the conservative US evangelicals who backed the legislation “have lost the moral and cultural war.”

The controversial bill seeks the death penalty for homosexuals and is often referred to as the “Kill the Gays Bill.”

Tolton said that intolerance to sexual diversity had rendered the conservatives unable to cope with realities of life.

Tolton, who says he is “on a mission to Uganda to reassure Ugandan homosexuals of God’s love” told Behind the Mask in an exclusive interview in Kampala, that he would seek to address the influence US conservatives and their opposition to same sex relationships in Africa.

“It is spiritual colonialism,” said Tolton who is described by the US National Black Justice Coalition website as a man who “enjoys a three-faceted career serving the gay and lesbian community as a voice for spiritual freedom, social justice and economic empowerment.” Continue Reading

Scope of Interagency Influence and Authority

The Council for Global Equality - Scope of Interagency Influence and AuthorityOver the past three days, we’ve laid out a number of key issues to be grappled with as the U.S. government meshes its foreign assistance programs with the goals laid out in the President’s December 6 memorandum and in Secretary Clinton’s speech the same day. These issues will require more than energy and thought: they will require clear and determined support from department and agency leaders, which we trust will be given.

As referenced earlier, USAID’s development assistance programs represent, in fact, only part of a larger set of assistance programs scattered across the U.S. government. The President’s memorandum references a baker’s dozen agencies that have such programs. Apart from USAID, two of our largest assistance programs were established under the Bush Administration: the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which we mentioned in yesterday’s blog, was established as a government corporation under the direction of a public/private board; PEPFAR, which operates under the Secretary of State’s oversight, oversees our international HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs. Smaller grass-roots development assistance programs are managed by the Inter-American Foundation and the African Development Foundation. Even the Pentagon carries discretionary funding that can buttress our overseas development assistance efforts. Continue reading ‘Scope of Interagency Influence and Authority’

Conditionality in U.S. Foreign Assistance

The Council for Global Equality - Conditionality in U.S. Foreign AssistanceLGBT hate crimes and other abuses are a clear concern in a number of countries.  Our developmental assistance policy-makers inevitably will confront the question of whether – and if so, how – foreign assistance might appropriately be conditioned in response to these and other LGBT human rights policy concerns.  The human rights and developmental assistance communities are divided internally on that point; we will not resolve those divisions today.

It seems to us that all foreign policy decisions, including with respect to foreign assistance, ultimately must reflect our own country’s principles and values – and these include the manner in which a country’s citizens are treated fairly, with equal rights, obligations, and opportunities.  It also seems to us that, except, perhaps, in emergency response, the decisions we take must encourage the kind of global community that shares our principles and values:  otherwise, those individual decisions have little import or reason.

With that in mind, the question of whether foreign aid should be conditioned on a country’s acceptance of LGBT fairness principles logically might come into play at any of three decision points. Continue reading ‘Conditionality in U.S. Foreign Assistance’

Working Toward Policy Coherence

The Council for Global Equality - Working Toward Policy CoherenceU.S. assistance programs must, like overall U.S. foreign policy, be grounded in U.S. principles.  We believe it a moral imperative that our assistance programs embrace the rights and needs of marginalized communities, including LGBT people, as a reflection of our country’s historical support both for equality of treatment and opportunity, and for governments that are responsive to the needs of their people.

But including LGBT people in USG assistance programs is also a matter of policy coherence, and of policy effectiveness.  Good governance programs can’t logically avoid the problems that LGBT and other marginalized and targeted minorities often face in government access and fair treatment.  Economic opportunity programs, such as micro-credit grants and other tools to encourage entrepreneurial development, need to empower whole communities to have maximum impact.  Health programs, and programs aimed at poverty reduction, cannot fully succeed if they skirt a portion of the population.  Educational opportunities, including job skills and business training, are critical for this population, since stigma and discrimination cause LGBT youth to disproportionately drop out of school.  Civil societies are only as strong as their most marginalized component.  And programs aimed at strengthening justice and the rule of law cannot live up to their own promise if they fail to include the abuses that LGBT people often face abroad. Continue reading ‘Working Toward Policy Coherence’

Opening up U.S. assistance programs to LGBT populations

Opening up U.S. assistance programs to LGBT populationsA little green dot marks December 6 on our calendar for last year. That’s the day the President issued his Memorandum instructing all USG foreign affairs agencies to use our diplomatic and foreign assistance tools to promote the fair and equal treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide. It’s also the day that Secretary Clinton gave a landmark address at the historic League of Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, making the case for why LGBT rights are human rights; why these rights are universal; and why we are obligated, as an international community, to ensure that LGBT rights are protected in every country around the globe.

The USG agencies identified in the President’s memorandum are required to report back to him no later than June 6 on the steps being undertaken to fulfill his directive. A State Department working group is helping guide the process.  And at USAID, a new, senior-level “SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) Coordinator” position soon will be filled. Continue reading ‘Opening up U.S. assistance programs to LGBT populations’

Foreign Assistance Blog Series

The Council for Global EqualityBeginning Monday, February 6, The Council for Global Equality will begin a four-part series of blog postings on foreign assistance. The postings will cover issues impacting foreign assistance such as: Developmental Assistance, Policy Coherence, and Conditionality. We hope you can set aside some time to read, comment and share them.

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